With the 2013 college football season now over, the focus has already turned to 2014. For the Boston College Eagles, it will be a time of great change, but potentially also one of great encouragement for the future of the program.
At quarterback, Chase Rettig is out. There is probably no leader in the clubhouse right now, seeing as it’s January, but some in Eagles circles believe that true freshman Darius Wade is good enough to be able to start right away. Redshirt freshman James Walsh is also a viable possibility; the competition for both of them has narrowed if the rumors are true that freshman Mack Lowrie intends to leave the program.
Whatever the case may be, it will be a young quarterback at the helm in 2014. This is also the way it must be in order to let our new starter going forward have a full season to learn during a year with low expectations. Playing senior Josh Bordner would be a waste of in-game development time for one of those two, amongst other things. At this point, there is a strong possibility the starting quarterback in August will be either Wade or Walsh. It should be noted, however, that Troy Flutie will also be a candidate for this job. Some recruiting services have him listed as a wide receiver but I have heard directly from BC Athletics personnel that Flutie is coming to Chestnut Hill as a quarterback.
Boston College has another replacement to make at running back. Doak Walker winner Andre Williams is out the door, and it would seem that then-sophomore Myles Willis will be able to step in and replace him. Steve Addazio could also elect to throw some new freshmen into the baptism-by-fire, such as Marcus Outlow.
This team would do well to replicate the dynamic they had in 2013: the bruising power back (Williams) and the versatile change-of-pace (Willis) helped make Boston College one of the best rushing teams in the nation. This begs the question: does this team have a running back with similar skills to Andre Williams who can complement backs like Willis? We’ll find out.
On the offensive line, which performed admirably this past season, Matt Patchan and Ian White are gone. Both of them were instrumental to the improvement of the line in 2013 and the success of the running game, but take a look at the most recent depth chart: if backups slide up and other starters remain, Boston College would have four seniors starting on the line in 2014.
This we can say with some level of certainty right now: if the offensive line plays adequately in 2014 and is without serious difficulties, the upcoming season will not be as bad as expected, this even with a new quarterback and other different offensive playmakers. Perhaps not a bowl team, but not a disastrous reset like Eagles basketball in 2011-12. Good line play has always counted for a lot at Boston College, and next season would be no different if they can play to their potential.
At wide receiver, go-to guy Alex Amidon is out, and the question is who replaces him. These last two seasons, reception totals were heavily slanted towards Amidon, so those catches are going to have to go to someone (or, more likely, a bunch of people). On the team, Harrison Jackson, Marcus Grant, and Dan Crimmins are younger options, Spiffy Evans is a veteran option, and a newcomer like Thadd Smith could provide another choice.
On the defensive line, Kasim Edebali, Kaleb Ramsey, and Jaryd Rudolph — all starters — are all gone. This will be a slightly more difficult fix, but plugging top recruit Harold Landry onto one of the ends could be a lifesaver for this team. Also expect to see backups Brian Mihalik and Connor Wujciak contend for starting roles, while pass-rusher Mehdi Abdesmad will ostensibly be recovered from his injury.
Meanwhile, Boston College lost two-thirds of its starting linebackers to graduation. Steele Divitto and Kevin Pierre-Louis are out, with Steven Daniels now as the most tenured starter. Josh Keyes and Sean Duggan are two veteran backups the Eagles have here now, but Addazio also recruited four linebackers in this class: Kevin Cohee, Ty Schwab, Christian Lezzer, and Connor Strachan, all three or four-star guys. There’s no question this corps will be much less experienced next season, but there is available talent. There will almost certainly be true freshmen getting snaps here in 2014.
In the secondary, there were no starters graduated. Therefore, most of the starters, including Manny Asprilla and Sean Sylvia, will probably remain the same. Do expect some of the younger players to get a look, however, and one freshman name to watch as a potential non-redshirt in 2014 is Isaac Yiadom.
Finally, on special teams, kicker/punter Nate Freese has left. Punting or kicking duties may be handed to Alex Howell, or incoming freshman Mike Knoll may be called upon to kick. This competition could be wide open.